University of Worcester researchers to analyse London-based dementia pilot project

Academics from the University of Worcester have begun lending their expertise to a potentially crucial project looking at dementia care in minority communities.

The Alzheimer’s Society is currently running a three-year project called Connecting Communities, which attempts to raise engagement and awareness of dementia within black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities across eight London boroughs.

Community Engagement volunteers will work to improve understanding of the condition and ensure people within different cultural communities have access to the support they need to live well with the condition.

Reports have identified people in BAME communities as harder to reach with regards to dementia information and support, and it is hoped that, if the initial London-based project is successful, the model can be replicated in areas across the UK.

A research team from the Association for Dementia Studies, based at the University of Worcester, has been appointed to carry out a two-year evaluation of this project, which will be taking place in the London boroughs of Hillingdon, Lambeth, Merton, Enfield, Newham, Redbridge, Hounslow and Croydon.

Dr Karan Jutlla, who is leading the evaluation alongside Research Assistant Jennifer Bray, says: “It’s great that the University of Worcester is involved in the project. Cultural diversity in dementia care is one of our key work streams and we are committed to developing this very important area of research.”

The project has already been running for a year, with the University of Worcester’s evaluation process beginning this summer. Over the remaining two years of the project, Dr Jutlla and her team will provide the Alzheimer’s Society with two annual summaries and an end of project report.

Dr Jutlla continues: “We’ll be doing a number of different things to evaluate the project – interviewing volunteers, interviewing the key stakeholders, assessing the information they provide and conducting a web-based survey to analyse whether there has been changes in the knowledge and awareness of particular issues in BAME communities.

“Fundamentally what we are looking for is evidence that can tell us whether or not the Connecting Communities project stimulates more interaction between health organisations and the public in BAME communities.

“We are also looking to capture the important lessons to learn from this pilot project, for if successful, it will be rolled out across the country.”

The initial phase of the evaluation process began this month, and the University of Worcester team will begin their interviews with project volunteers this month.